How to Soothe Itchy Scalp Without Damaging Your Roots


Digging your nails into your scalp trying to find relief can do more than scratch an itch— it can break your locs off. I don’t say this to scare you, but it is a real warning. In my years behind the chair, I have seen this type of damage caused to the roots of many individuals with locs.

breakage at roots of locs from scratching with fingernails

I do understand the urge to scratch when you are dealing with an undiagnosed scalp condition, have just started your locs, or have always had dandruff and your scalp itches uncontrollably. I get it. However, the risks that come with scratching an itchy scalp with your hands or nails are devastating.


One of the first signs that you are damaging your locs from scratching is breakage at the roots. This breakage can appear as just loose, unloc’d hair but if left untreated can lead to further complications. When you don’t properly soothe an itchy scalp you may have to deal with your locs thinning at the roots or completely breaking off. Being that your locs are an accumulation of naturally shed hair, when hair starts breaking off it will not marry into the locs which results in thinning. Additionally, if the thinning is not repaired, the locs will start to snap off at the roots because the base can no longer support the weight of the loc as length increases. So we have gone from just loose hairs at the roots to thinning locs to your locs on the floor— all because you are scratching your scalp with your hands! I’ll also add that locs tend to grow slower when the scalp and/or roots are not happy and healthy— so if you want longer locs learn the proper way to soothe your itchy scalp.


If you’re itching for ways to soothe an itchy scalp without damaging your roots, try these four (4) remedies:

  • Don’t Scratch With Your Hands. Instead of using your fingernails, use a tool such as the Scalp Revitalizer. A tool like this can better reach the area of the itching and is ergonomically designed to not snag or break the hair.
  • Nourish your scalp internally. This is simply drinking more (alkaline) water and eating less processed food. Ask any Hair Care Professional how to nourish the scalp and they will tell you that hydration starts from within. So truly getting to the root (pun-intended) you will need to start with what you’re putting into your body.
  • Seek Professional Help. If you are currently experiencing itchy, flaking, scales or soreness in your scalp you may need a medicated treatment. Go see a Dermatologist, which is a doctor of the skin, or a Trichologist, which is a doctor of the scalp.
  • Use Scalp Soothing Products for Locs. A few of my favorite products include:

These remedies can help to give you some temporary relief or may stop the itching all together but the results depend on many factors. For some, the itching may be a results of poor diet and/or lack of water intake. For others, the uncontrollable scratching can be a genetic scalp disorder that can be managed, but never cured. And there are those of use with locs that may be experiencing the urge to scratch constantly because of poor product usage or simply the stress of life. Whatever the cause of your discomfort, I challenge you to use better methods for soothing your scalp.

The next time your scalp starts itching, try one of the 4 solutions for soothing your itchy scalp so you don’t cause lasting damage in exchange for quick relief.

Let me know in the comments how you like to treat your scalp!

And be sure to register for the “Battling Buildup Workshop” to learn proven regimens for maintaining a healthy scalp with locs.

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Jocelyn Reneé

Jocelyn Reneé is a Licensed Cosmetologist, Loctician and Textured Hair Educator. She was born and raised in the Washington DC area and is a graduate of the Aveda Institute Cosmetology Science program. With over 14 years in the Hair Care Industry, from Salon Assistant to Natural Hair Blogger to Professional; Jocelyn is passionate about cultivating healthy hair.

Blog Comments

I legit have to wash my hair once a week because of the itching. I thought it was because of the products I was using but I have dialed back a ton on products. No heavy creams, very little oil and mostly water based products. And still I have to wash weekly. I palm roll and the wash just ruins everything. Thinking about interlocking. Because I wash so much. After the wash though, my scalp feels wonderful!

Interlocking can be helpful to extend the longevity of your grooming. Also, consider your scalp may need a medicated shampoo.

In your experience, does scalp massage with the fingertips (not nails) also lead to breakage?

Yes it can because the pH of your hands, when not in water is very different from the pH of your hair and it causes the breakage of 1 of the 3 molecular bonds in the hair.

Thanks for this. My scalp is normally absolutely fine (even with daily workouts) however after I get my hair retwisted and styled, a few days later my scalp is a bit itchy. I retwist about once every 2/3months, the styles don’t feel tight to me and aren’t very elaborate but it seems to be the only time when my scalp gets itchy. Is this common?

It happens. Maybe the products that are used. Maybe that your sweat is settling on your scalp more than onto your hair during the 2-3 months of new growth.

My scalp itches alot, which makes me use less oily products on my hair, it’s been a long time and the itching won’t stop.

Have you checked whether you are allergic to the ingredients in the products that you’re using?

You mentioned massaging with your fingertips too can cause breakages
That’s the only way I can apply hair pomade to my scalp
So please which other alternative ways are there

If you must apply this pomade, wear gloves to do so.

Itchy scalp it’s driving me crazy and not sure what to use as moisturizer my hair is always dry n dull please help

I share moisturizers in this article, 5 Types of Moisturizers for Locs, also the “Pure Scalp” is really great for dry, itchy scalp.

Laverne hope you don’t mind my two cents: I was having intense itching and my hair was dull, dry and had terrible static. I now use an apple cider vinegar rinse (8oz water & 3oz ACV mixed in cup, pour it over scalp & hair in between shampoo and conditioner, massage it in, rinse after 10 minutes).

Cost $1.99. Result PRICELESS! No more itchy scalp, body and shine returns. GOOD LUCK!


When will the Pure Scalp be back in stock?

The Pure Scalp is back in stock and on sale now, use code “HAPPYSCALP” to save at checkout until 1/16/2022 click here to purchase

Yes! That was my issues, my products made like got l had Psoriasis. Now u use., Alovera gel with hair grease, mixed up my way, for my hair regimen. The edge gel was not my hairs jam.

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